Golf Betting Tips: Prediction Model

Betfair’s Prediction Model provides golf betting tips for the PGA and European tournaments. The data science tool rates every player’s probability for a particular course. It knows the strengths of each player, pulling data from PGA Tour Stats, and what courses they suit. As well as recent form and a variety of other metrics.

You get golf betting tips, and complimenting copy, each week on the Betfair Hub. Plus you can see the model outputs for every player. Compare those with the odds on the Betfair Exchange and you’ll identify value betting opportunities. Both to Lay and to Back.

Koepka now has 6 PGA Tour victories – four of those are Majors. We’re getting to the boundaries of this being a result of pure variance, it really does looks like Brooks phones it in most weeks then enters a different dimension on the big stage.

Capturing anomalies like this in a robust statistical model is always challenging and in a game as variable as golf, it’s basically impossible to do in any structured way. Plus, certain players ‘breaking’ a model is one of the best things about sport – you get to sit back and watch something which the raw numbers simply can’t explain.

Onto this week as a surprisingly stacked field heads to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge.

A rarity on the modern Tour, the course doesn’t require length of the tee to be successful, instead favouring accuracy and approach play. The par-70, 7,200 yard course features water, thick rough and is heavily bunkered.

Wind is almost always a factor and this year is no different, with 20-30km/h winds forecast basically the entire week.

The course has hosted this event since 1946 so there’s a fair amount of course history for the market to assess.

Over the Odds

Jon Rahm

With two top-5s here in his only two starts we were shocked to see any value present on the model’s top pick – last week’s MC probably has a lot to do with it. We can forgive him that blemish as he was on a ridiculous run of form prior. Very happy to be on board this week with a value price.

 BACK – Rahm for 1 unit at $14+

Bryson DeChambeau

Has cooled recently after a stellar run of form that saw him enter the top 5 of model ratings. Simply too good a player for this form slump to continue.

 BACK – Bryson for 0.5 units at $36+

Byeong Hun An

Two MCs in his last three starts has blown out the Korean’s price here but on paper he looks like a good course fit. Likes the Texan conditions, posting a 7th at the Valero not long ago.

 BACK – Benny for 0.25 units at $110+

The only event on the calendar to be hosted in Denmark, the appropriately named tournament enter its sixth year and returns to the scene of its first four editions at the Himmerland Back Tee course. The 6,900 yard par-71 is about a four hour drive from the capital Copenhagen and features wide fairways to entice the big hitters but thick rough should the big stick go astray.

Greens are slow and with wind the course’s only real defence, scoring has been very easy in the previous three editions which were played in favourable conditions.

This week’s forecast looks a lot more difficult, with winds up around 30km/h and little respite for the AM wave. The Thursday AM wave does look the pick of the time slots at it will see the only time winds dip below 20km/h for the week.

Looking back at previous top finishers, driving distance is the standout stat and wind management will be key this week.

After his solid finish in the PGA Championship and strong recent form, defending champ Matt Wallace has been installed as a rightful favourite but looks a bit short. We’ll be looking for some better value down the board, with a focus on wind play.

Over the Odds

Thorbjorn Olesen

Not in the greatest form but we’ll take the slim value on a local hope. His best effort here was back in 2014 when conditions were similar and scoring was tough.

 BACK – Olesen for 0.5 units at $25+

Scott Jamieson

Posted some strong performances in windy conditions during the desert swing and goes well off the tee. Does have a pretty awful course history here which has no doubt contributed to his long price.

 BACK – Jamieson for 0.25 units at $200+

Gavin Green

The youngster has been recording some strong finishes of late, finally putting results up that match his potential. Goes huge off the tee so if he can keep it out of the rough he’s a good shot this week.

 BACK – Gavin Green Jacket for 0.25 units at $170+





Previous Tournaments

It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the Big Cat completing one of the greatest comebacks not just in golf, but in sporting history.

His huge Masters victory has created even more intrigue around this week’s USPGA tournament – will the great man go on with it, or was Augusta just a flash in the pan marking the end of the fairytale? The market is certainly leaning to the former, while the model has more mixed opinions.

Bethpage Black in Long Island, New York hosts this year’s event having previously played host to two US Open events. Unlike the Masters, the PGA moves each year so we don’t have a rich set of course history to assist our predictions.

The 7,450 par-70 presents a formidable challenge to 156-man field with some very long setups putting a premium on driver and big iron play. When hosting the US Open, the winning scores were 3 and 4-under so don’t expect good scoring this week.

Greens are quick, well bunkered and mostly elevated meaning it’s best to be attacking them from as close as possible. Regardless of the quality of iron play, visits to the beach are an inevitability this week so we’ll be keeping an eye on sand skills when considering our tips.

With extremely limited course history to go off, the market has latched onto the (seemingly) next best thing – history at Major tournaments. This has seen Tiger and Koepka installed at much shorter odds than the model suggests. Our model, whether right or wrong, weights all tournaments equally and given how limited in number Major tournaments are, it’s likely to stay that way.

Due to random chance alone, there will always be golfers who appear to be Major Championship specialists and those who never fulfil their potential in a Major, the chokers if you will. In order for these labels to be true from a statistically significant standpoint, we’d need orders of magnitude more data, which unless the PGA starts running 5 tournaments a week simply isn’t going to happen.

With all that said, a lot of golf is in the head so we’ve no doubt these mentally strong and weak players exist, but in a sport with so much inherent randomness it’s just extremely difficult to prove.

Weather-wise, there has been a ridiculous amount of rain in the region in the lead up to the tournament so expect relatively soft conditions. Thursday PM tee off looks to be the most favourable slot but nothing is really jumping out as a good angle to play.

There’s going to be a sense of déjà vu with the tips this week as the market continues to habitually undervalue our favourite names, particularly in big tournaments.

Over the Odds

Patrick Cantlay

It doesn’t seem to matter how Cantlay plays, the market still refuses to rate him for what he is, one of the top players in the world. He stormed home at the Masters to finish a mere three strokes back from Tiger and followed it up with a very strong performance at Harbour Town. We can only surmise that punters are staring at the MC in his last event when coming up with the frankly silly price on offer for him.

 BACK – Cantlay for 0.5 for the win at $50+ and 0.5 units top 10 at $5.50+

Webb Simpson

Another name we liked for the Masters, Simpson even did a stroke better than Cantlay yet still can’t get any love from the market. Knows his way around sand wedge so we’re more than happy to back him again.

 BACK – Simpson for 0.5 units for the win at $110+ and 0.5 units top 20 at $3.70+.

Jhonattan Vegas, Scott Piercy, Keegan Bradley

Two more of our favourites plus a new name in red hot form round out the tips this week and we’ll have a piece of all of them in top 20 markets where there are some very nice prices on offer.

 BACK – Vegas Top 20 for 0.5 units at $6+

 BACK – Piercy Top 20 for 0.5 units at $6+

 BACK – Bradley Top 20 for 0.5 units at $6.40+

An absolute domination from the unheralded Max Homa last week blew away any chance our many Johnny Vegas had, despite a strong performance from him. As much as we’d like to be backing our fancies each way, the market just isn’t formed enough at the time of writing. If you’re betting closer to tee off we’d definitely recommend getting some place money down in order to smooth out volatility.

Moving on to the final warmup before the PGA Championship, Trinity Forest plays host to the AT&T Byron Nelson. Most of the big names are sitting this one out to prep for next week so we’ve got a fairly weak 156-man field teeing up. This is only the second year this venue has hosted the event so there is limited course history to guide us. Last year saw around the green and putting play as the key metrics but it’s hard to read too much into a single data point.

While the long-rolling, hard fairways took off the tee play out of the equation somewhat last year, a bucketload of rain in the lead up to this year’s event will likely swing that the other way. Thursday and Friday will see highish winds which will give the course a completely different look to last year.

With almost no history to speak of and weather at the opposite end of the spectrum to the only data point we have, this seems like a good week to lean completely on the model.

The market has installed Koepka as a very short favourite and the model isn’t as keen. Despite Spieth’s recent improvements we still think he is the biggest lay in sport at the moment as a few good rounds isn’t enough to overcome an 18-month form slump in our model that weighs up performances over the last two years.

Hideki Matsuyama

The model has him neck and neck with Koepka however he’s been underrated by the market of late due to his lack of wins. Despite not posting a victory for over 18-months Hideki has been reeling off top-20 finishes like they’re going out of fashion. He’s rarely far off the pace and in a weak field we like his chances to break his drought.

 BACK – Hideki Matsuyama for 0.75 units at $17+

Rafa Cabrera Bello

The Spaniard has been spending more and more time on the PGA Tour of late and is yet to crack a victory. His form this season has been exceptional across both Tours with just a pair of missed cuts blotting his copybook.

 BACK – Rafa Cabrera Bello for 0.25 units at $48+

Our man Mike stormed home but fell short due to average second and third round performances. He does make another argument for backing our picks in each way or top 10 markets.

The confusingly name British Masters (no it’s not a Major) marks the start of the summer over in the mother country and sees Tommy Fleetwood hosting an event in his home town. The course at Hillside Golf Club in Southport doesn’t have much of a history on Tour however has played hsot to Open Championship qualifiers over the years.

Fitting of the tournament’s name the course itself is typically British, measuring at a short 6,953 yards despite remaining a par-72. The combination of a number of doglegs, combined with the fast rolling greens and on overall lack of length mostly negates any advantage of driving distance.

However, in even more typically British fashion, it will be raining Thursday and Friday which may slow the fairways down somewhat. Winds will be moderate throughout the week but scoring should improve on Sunday as they die down.

The host Fleetwood has been installed as rightful favourite and the model sees some value. However the multitude of media duties has seen past hosts fair quite poorly at this event so we’ll give him a swerve.

Tommy Fleetwood

On second thoughts, an overlay on a favourite that large is too good to ignore so we’ll have a piece of Tommy in front of his home crowd.

 BACK – Tommy Fleetwood for 0.75 units at $10+

Lee Westwood

We’ll stick with the Brits who should feel right at home on a cramped course in miserable weather. Hasn’t played for a while but should be better rested than a lot of the field who have been all over the place of late!

 BACK – Lee Westwood for 0.25 units at $32+

Our picks were miles off the pace last week as none of them quite came to terms with the weather. Players will be met with a much less challenging test this week as the Tour moves to the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen China. The course has been a fixture on Tour since 2014 with both this event and the Shenzhen Open having used it.

Despite the course’s short 7,145 yard distance, distance off the tee and the closely related par-5 scoring come up as key stats. Despite being built around a lake, the generous fairways mean you’d need to stray way off course for water to come into play. The greens are slightly less forgiving however modest bunkering doesn’t pose too much of an issue should approach shots miss their target.

Local favourite Haotong Li is fairly priced and the market has caught up with our man Suri so we’ll be looking further afield for players with solid par-5 scoring potential.

Mike Lorenzo-Vera

This might still be the Rickie Fowler effect (won comfortably the week after we picked him) but we’re sticking with the Frenchman here who should be much more comfortable on this easier setup. Ranks right up top of par-5 scoring on Tour and has a great overlay (probably thanks to his poor showing last week).

 BACK – Mike for 0.5 units at $50+

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

Another solid par-5 scorer, the South African has been in absolutely superb form lately so we were shocked when he came up as a value play. Value, course fit and form – we really like Bezuidenhout this week.

 BACK – Bezuidenhout for 0.25 units at $90+

Scott Jamieson

We’re going all in on par-5 scoring this week and our final pick Jamieson currently ranks second on tour for par-5 scoring against the field average having made huge strides off the tee in 2019. Has played here a number of times with a pair of MCs to go with a pair of top 25s. We’ll back his strong 2019 driver form to get him on the right side of the ledger this week.

 BACK – Jamieson for 0.25 units at $120+

After a bit of fun last week with the pairs event we’re back to normal stroke play proceedings as the Tour heads to Quail Hollow Club, host of the 2017 PGA Championship. Tiger is sitting this one out, but it’s still a strong lineup with a number of big names looking to polish their games before the season’s next Major in a fortnight.

Fitting of a course that’s played host to a Major, the layout is very challenging. Water is in play on six holes, greens are all well-guarded by bunkering and eight of the par-4s are over the 450 yard mark. The final three holes, dubbed the ‘Green Mile’ are the hardest on the course so keep that in mind if holding a winning ticket down the stretch.

This is a big hitter’s course with approach play factoring heavily as well. Winds are forecast to be light all week so there should be no reason to be clubbing down off the tee. Rough has been dialled back since the 2017 edition so all signs are pointing to targeting distance as there is minimal penalty for small fairway misses.

Course history sees Rory go in as a big favourite this week but the model isn’t on the same page. Let’s see if we can dig up some big hitters with big overlays further down the board.

Over the Odds

Gary Woodland

We seem to be backing G-Wood on a near weekly basis and while he hasn’t rewarded us yet, his underlying stats are simply way ahead of where the market has him. Gains basically all his strokes off the tee and on approach so is a near perfect course fit.

 BACK – Gary for 0.75 units at $32+

Jhonattan Vegas

His off the tee play has reached career high levels lately and his finishes have been reflecting it, approach is his weakness.

 BACK – Vegas for 0.25 units at $110+

Another week, another final round meltdown from one of our selections – this time from the unlikeliest of players in the Dustman. There have been countless analyses done showing that leaders entering the final round perform well below the field average but we thought DJ had the mental fortitude to buck this trend. Going forward we recommend laying off exposure on any tip leading after day three – you just don’t want to be on the wrong side of this statistic.

With the PGA hosting a pairs event this weekend, we turn our attentions to the Euro which heads over to Morocco as players vie for one of the coolest prizes in golf – a bad ass dagger – at the Trophee Hassan event. The Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Red Course hosts the event for the third straight year and offers up a long and challenging layout, scores over par routinely make the cut here.

Driving and play on difficult courses will be our key focus, along with our traditional hunt for big price overlays.

Weather-wise, wind is the major factor here and it’s looking like the biggest AM/PM differential will come on Friday, where winds are forecast to really pick up in the afternoon. If possible we’ll be targeting Friday PM session blokes to try and avoid this.

Over the Odds

Joost Luiten

Looks to be a near perfect course fit as he consistently gains strokes off the tee and has performed well on the tougher courses. His late Friday tee-time seals the deal for a solid play.

 BACK – Joost for 0.75 units at $19+

Fabrizio Zanotti

Did very well at a windy and difficult Oman Open back in early March and goes very well off the tee. Doesn’t get the favourable opening day time slot but we’ll back in his excellent recent form on windy courses.

 BACK – Fabrizio for 0.5 units at $44+

Mike Lorenzo-Vera

Not the biggest hitter, but his massive overlay and favourable tee slot mean we’ll have a piece of the Frenchman this week.

 BACK – Mike for 0.25 units at $60+

Wow – what a Masters! You couldn’t have scripted a more captivating golf tournament as the Big Cat completed arguably the greatest sporting comeback in history as he donned the Green Jacket for the fifth time, a staggering 14 years after his last victory. While we were stoked to see the great man win, he edged out three of our picks by one, two and three strokes respectively – hopefully some of you took them each way!

A surprisingly strong field heads to Hilton Head Island this week to take on the Harbour Town Links which has hosted this event since 1969. Definitely one where the shorter hitters can shine, the tight fairways limit big stick opportunities off the tee while heavy tree lining means positioning is crucial to get a clear shot at the greens.

Speaking of greens, they are positively tiny – averaging the smallest size on Tour. This puts a premium on around the green play as no matter how accurate you are on approach, you’re still going to be forced into a lot of up and downs.

Weather wise, Thursday is looking relatively mild with a small edge to the AM wave who will face slightly lighter winds. Winds on Friday and Saturday are looking particularly nasty so keep an eye out to see if there is any benefit to your man’s tee time when considering trading opportunities.

Over the Odds

Dustin Johnson

When you mention a course that favours short hitters DJ is probably the last name that comes to mind. Yes, he gains a mountain of strokes off the tee, but the bloke is a serious all-round talent and we’ll take value on him whenever it presents itself.

 BACK – Dusty for 0.75 units at $9+

Tommy Fleetwood

On the other hand, Fleetwood is an excellent course fit – consistently ranking in the top 20 on Tour for around the green play. Never really got going last week but his form of late has been superb. It’s only a matter of time before he notches his first win for 2019.

 BACK – Fleetwood for 0.5 units at $30+

The first Major of the year is upon us as 87 of the world’s finest golfers tackle arguably its most famous course. The Augusta National Golf Club has been hosting the tournament since its first edition in 1934.

The Masters is unique in this respect as the only Major tournament played at the same course each year. This means there is a long course history available for some of the tournament regulars.

We’ve spoken about course history before and that due to the (usually) limited number of rounds played at a course by each player, it’s basically impossible to find any significant signal – golf is a very unpredictable game and you need to see a lot of a player on one course in order to make a determination that it is the course itself having an impact on scoring rather than that players innate skill at the time of playing it.

By virtue of being played on the same course as well as by largely the same players, Augusta represents an exceptional opportunity to apply some course history analysis. While we won’t be adding it into the model outcomes, we will be using it as an overlay to target our picks this week.

Before we get into that, we’ll give our usual rundown of course attributes in order to determine suitability for the rookies and other players who haven’t been lucky enough to go around Augusta more than a handful of times.

The course is setup as a 7,475 par 72. The course is largely unchanged from the previous instalment, save for a lengthening of the par-4 fifth by 40 yards and the addition of a pair of sand traps. The four par-5s provide relatively easy scoring opportunities however the other 14 holes rank as some of the toughest on Tour. Distance off the tee can be advantageous here however the forecast is for strong winds, particularly in the afternoons which will limit the ability to go for it with the big drive.

On the subject of weather, the lightest winds of the week are forecast for the Friday AM wave so targeting guys who’ve opened with the PM round could be a shrewd play – especially given the winds for that session are supposed to be pretty big so they’re likely to be back in the pack. The final round will see winds up around 30km/h the entire day so keep that in mind if holding onto a bloke in the mix – anything could happen out there!

We touched on course history earlier and we’ve had a look at the histories of players with a significant enough sample to perform meaningful analysis. The outcome definitely showed there are persistent under or over performers – the obvious names like Tiger, Rory and Phil stand out – however the scale of the adjustment pales in comparison to how the market is rating it.

The perfect example of this is Jordan Spieth. The 2015 champ has been playing consistently average golf (that’s probably being generous) for the better part of 18 months (his podium finish here last year notwithstanding) and has reached his lowest model rating since 2014. Even giving Spieth the benefit of a huge course history adjustment he is still miles underpriced.

Moving beyond a player’s history with the course, which runs into sample size problems, we’ve also looked at how the number of times a player has suited up at Augusta impacts performance. Not being a player specific measure, we have a lot more data to work with and can make more robust conclusions.

The data shows out performance compared to model expectation as experience increases, peaking around 8-10 appearances. The market is clearly aware of this trend too as rookies are priced way above where the model has them. However as with the overvaluation of course history we feel the market has gone too hard on this stat as the effect of experience, while strongly significant, is still relatively minor.

The combination of these two market mispricings has provided some excellent value opportunities this week and we’ll be spreading our risk across the field.

Over the Odds

Xander Schaufelle

Copping the sophomore and probably course form (based on one showing?) adjustment from the market sees a tasty price on offer for the remarkably consistent youngster. His game took off last season and he hasn’t slowed down. He’s a great chance here at an even better price.

 BACK – Xander for 0.5 units at $50+

Patrick Cantlay

Another young player copping an unfair experience adjustment from the market, Cantlay is simply a must back at this price.

 BACK – Cantlay for 0.5 units at $100+

Gary Woodland

G-Wood popped up in our course history analysis as an underperformer and the market has latched onto it as well. The course effect is largely ameliorated by his course experience and the result is another excellent value opportunity.

 BACK – Woodland for 0.5 units at $100+

Webb Simpson

We can only assume the market is looking back at his three missed cuts here when coming up with his price as there is really no other explanation. Ticks the experience box and has performed strongly at Majors in the past. Quite simply a silly price.

 BACK – Webb for 0.25 units at $180+

Charles Howell

Another victim of the course experience whack, Howell is in the best form of his life. While he may lack course experience, he’s been on Tour forever and should have the mental fortitude to go with his new found talent.

 BACK – Howell for 0.25 units at $250+

Absolute heart breaker last week, as our pick Suri lead basically the entire tournament before attempting a near unexplainable shot on the 14th hole on his way to a quadruple bogey. If you had any money on him I’d suggest avoiding the replay – he turned a simple up and down into the stuff of nightmares.

Hopefully any backers laid off in-play as he traded very low before and during the final round. Four out of our five picks finished in the top 20 so we’re at least moving in the right direction!

Onto this week’s PGA event as the Euro takes the week off ahead of the year’s first Major. The AT&T Oaks Course outside of San Antonio, Texas hosts the Masters warm up and is a fitting precursor given its high level of difficulty. All the par-5s are very long and offer up limited opportunities compared to most courses on Tour.

Wind is often in play as competitors try to tee off onto very narrow fairways lined by unforgiving obstacles. From there, the greens are often elevated with nasty run-offs to punish inaccurate approach.

With the lengthy par-5’s, big stick play is a key as is the patience to deal with the difficulty. Wind is often a factor here but the forecast this week is looking unusually light, which may help out the less accurate boomstick merchants. We’d suggest hedging out exposure if your man is holding a lead during the last round as scores can turn ugly out of nowhere.

The market is really dialled in this week, aligning very closely with our model output. Given the Major next week we’re sure a lot of punters will be holding their wad so to speak so we’ll be going easy on the tips too.

Over The Odds

Tony Finau

In bone dry week for value we’ll take what little we can get on Big Tony. Gains strokes off the tee and placed third here back in 2017 so we know the course suits.

 BACK – Tony for 0.75 units at $18+

Had a technical snafu last week which stopped the tips making it up in time and while we wish we could say that we were huge on Casey and Scotty Hend we certainly weren’t. Good to see the strong performances of our tips the week after backing them continue as Kokrak nailed a runner up finish, while Zanotti had a two week lag before his strong showing in the Euro event. Golf is a funny old sport to bet on but at least this shows we’re looking in the right places.

The combined Tours host a match play event this week, which unfortunately the model just isn’t setup to cater for as it focuses on accuracy over round scores, not individual holes.

This leaves us with the decidedly second string event over in Delhi as the DLF Golf and Country Club hosts the Hero Indian Open. This is the third year the event has been held at the very difficult Gary Player designed course which features slim fairways and thick rough combined with some bunkering that resembles moon craters.

With many ways to blow out a score, this course will favour those with the patience to avoid bogeys. Accuracy will play a large part as no matter how good your sand game is, a visit to the beach on this course will more often than not result in adding to your score.

The market is heavily favouring the local talent which has thrown up some nice prices on the foreigners.

Over The Odds

Julian Suri

The American played his first event since November last week and picked up straight from where he left off posting a strong top 20 finish. We like him to continue his strong form in what will likely be similar conditions. He has an Indian name so might receive a bit of local support too.

 BACK – Suri for 0.75 units at $27+

Victor Dubuisson

We’re back on Dooby this week after his withdrawal in his last tournament. Hard to find any info as to whether it was related to his previous injury issues but given he’s back so soon we’re going to assume not.

 BACK – Dubuisson for 0.5 units at $34+

Robert Rock, Mikko Korhonen and Andrea Pavan

We thought we’d cast a bit of a wider net this week to try and capture some more value. These three are all rated as great plays by the model and we’ll spread the risk across the three of them.

 BACK – Rock for 0.2 units at $85+

 BACK – Mikko for 0.2 units at $80+

 BACK –  Pavan for 0.2 units at $65+

Our picks improved somewhat last week, with a couple of fancies getting top 20s, but we’re still searching for the big priced win. It’s a tough game backing straight wins but we’re happy with the approach, just expect returns to be very lumpy.

A huge purse awaits the winner of this week’s Players Championship and it has attracted the biggest names from both Tours to an event often referred to as the ‘Firth Major’.

It’s earnt that moniker not just for the big prize money, but the difficulty of the TPC Sawgrass course, which sees 88 sand traps and 17 water hazards defending its 7,189 layout – resulting in the third highest double bogey rate on Tour. The course does offer up a couple of eagle opportunities on the 2nd and 16th hole, both of those par 5s.

Weather-wise it’s looking like there’ll be a reasonable breeze blowing for most of the week, with the biggest differential between AM/PM conditions coming on the first day, with early winds up to 10km/h lighter than later in the day.

With wind in play, we expect players to club down off the tee so we’ll focus our picks on value plays with good approach and around the green play.

Over the Odds

Patrick Cantlay

The young gun has been one of the most consistent players on Tour over the last two season so we’re going to back him every time he comes up as a value play.

 BACK – Cantlay for 1 unit at $44+

Gary Woodland

The market continues to underrate G-Wood, a man who has really found his game over the last 12 months or so. It’s only a matter of time before he turns his top-10 finishes into a win.

 BACK – Gary for 0.5 units at $70+

Jason Kokrak

Speaking of players who have found their games, Kokrak has been posting strong finish after strong finish lately. He’s always been capable of an opening round flyer but lately has been bringing it over all four rounds.

 BACK – Kokrak for 0.25 units at $200+

With the big names from Europe enjoying the Floridian hospitality we’re left with a weakened field lining up in Nairobi for the Kenya Open. The course has been a regular on the Challenge Tour so we’ve had a good look at the near 6,920 yard setup, which due to the altitude plays closer to a ridiculous 6,400 yards.

Without much difficult making it to the greens, this tournament usually turns into a putting contest which unfortunately makes it very hard to predict, given the fickle nature of putting performance. The Kikuyu grass should favour golfers from the continent, with South Africans faring particularly well here over the years.

Winds will be up most of the week with the AM/PM wave differential being similar on the opening two days.

Over the Odds

Erik Van Rooyen

While the model isn’t saying this is a value play, you simply have to back a South African in this tournament and he’s the best value chance on the board.

 BACK – Van Rooyen for 0.5 units at $23+

Seungsu Han

His price here is somewhat due to not playing many tournaments but we’ll back a bloke who makes cuts on the PGA circuit in a field as weak as this one.

 BACK – Han for 0.25 units at $42+

The Florida Swing continues this week as a select field of 123 golfers play for the prestigious red cardigan in memory of the tournament’s namesake. The event has been played at the same location in Bay Hill, Orlando since 1979 and an Arnie owned and designed 7,419 par 72.

It’s a difficult setup, with long approaches and heavily bunkered greens and fairways to accompany the nine water hazards. Birdieing the par 5s is key to success with Tiger using this strategy to good effect on his way to four victories here.

Players regarded as strong putters have succeeded here over the years, however our analysis has shown that putting form is the streakiest of all so we won’t be leaning on it.

Rory Mac has been installed as a very short favourite, not surprising given his recent slew of top 5 finishes and his win here last year, but in a field of this quality the market looks to have gone a bit too hard. In fact the market appears to have gotten carried away with most of the big names, meaning we’ll need to look further afield for value plays.

Over the Odds

Hideki Matsuyama

After a blistering start to his career, Hideki has cooled somewhat but seems to have pulled himself out of a long form slump from the highs of 2017. His last two showings at this tournament have been poor which likely explains his generous price. Simply too good a golfer not to get another win soon.

 BACK – Hideki for 0.75 units at $34+

Charles Howell III

In a rare vein of form right now which has seen him rocket up our ratings to his highest ever. We’ll take any value we can get on a bloke playing the best golf of his life.

 BACK – Howell for 0.5 units at $85+

Aaron Wise

The youngster has missed a bunch of cuts lately but that’s to be expected of a young man figuring out his game. We’ll take the long odds offered on a bloke who has proven he has what it takes to win.

 BACK – Wise for 0.25 units at $150+

The final event of the Arabian Swing, the Qatar Masters is the OG Arabian event – having been played since 1998. Prize money was reduced last year, which has seen a consequent reduction in field strength.

Another typical desert course, wind if the main defence however they are numerous water hazards in the form of artificial lakes. As long as these can be avoided, the forgiving rough means fairways can really be attacked, with little fear of a poor lie should they stray from the short stuff – this is definitely a week to target the big hitters.

Big winds are forecast all week so players with a solid links history will be at a distinct advantage.

In a field that could only be described as intensely mediocre, the market has latched on to Thomas Pieters. We’re going to swerve the top of the board and go hunting for a few long shots further down.

Over the Odds

Fabrizio Zanotti

With higher winds forecast again this week we’re happy to lean on form from last week where conditions were very similar. Despite his strong finish in Oman, we were surprised to see some value in Zanotti’s price – we’ll take it where we can get it!

 BACK – Zanotti for 0.75 units at $55+

Victor Perez

Absolutely tore up the Challenge Tour at the back end of last year reeling off eight top 20 finishes in a row. He’s stepped up to the big leagues and continued the strong form. He did struggle with the wind a little last week but should be better for the experience.

 BACK – Perez for 0.5 units at $95+

Paul Waring

Another who struggled in the wind last week, we’ll give the benefit of the doubt given his great distance off the tee and performed well a couple of weeks back in Abu Dhabi. The big overlay helps too.

 BACK – Waring for 0.25 units at $140+.

A rampant DJ near lapped the field last week as our poor run of form continued. The Tour heads back over the border this week as the Honda Classic kicks off the Florida Swing.

A reasonably weak, Tiger-less field will take on the Championship Course at PGA National. The course is pretty much the most difficult on Tour outside of the Majors due to a combination of regular winds and a huge amount of water in play. This puts a premium on hitting greens as if you miss, you’ll likely end up in the drink.

The wind forecast is looking unusually light, with a slight edge to AM tee times on Friday where there is barely a breath of breeze.

With the big names dominating proceedings lately, it’s no surprise that the model isn’t finding a lot of value up the top of the board and overall the market has done a pretty solid job this week.

Over the Odds

Zach Johnson

The other Johnson has had a quiet start to the season, participating in just five events. During these events, he’s continued his strong approach game form from last season, which should see him perform well here.

 BACK – ZJ for 0.5 units at $90 or better.

Harold Varner

The two missed cuts in recent events notwithstanding, Varner is in the best form of his career posting s aeries of strong results in the tail end of last season and the start of this one. The market is clearly only seeing those MCs so the price is just silly.

 BACK – Harold for 0.25 units at $220+

The Euro continues its meanderings along the Arabian Peninsula as the Al Mouj Club hosts just the second instalment of the Oman Open. The course was used on the Challenge Tour for five years prior to being upgraded so we’ve had a reasonable look at what it has to offer.

The Greg Norman design is as you would expect for a course in the desert – flat, sandy and largely exposed to the gusty Gulf winds. There’ll be a distinct advantage for the Thursday AM wave as the winds are forecast to be at their lightest for the week before increasing throughout the day and really taking off on Friday and Saturday.

With most of Europe’s stars either over the US or sitting this one out, we’re left with your fairly standard Euro Tour crap shoot.

Over the Odds

Victor Dubuisson

The comeback kid Dubui has been steadily working his way higher up leaderboards since his return last year and against a very weak field we like him to jump up to the next level and make his comeback complete.

 BACK – Victor for 0.5 units at $60 or better.

Andrea Pavan

The Italian tees off in the key Thursday AM wave and we like him to recapture his form from late 2018, which saw him nail a flurry of top 20s as well as a maiden victory.

 BACK – Pavan for 0.5 units at $80+

Mikko Korhonen

A pure value play, Korhonen proved last year that he has what it takes to get up to the top of the leaderboard – even if his performances in between aren’t anything to write home about.

 BACK – Mikko for 0.25 units at $130+

The sooner we can put last week behind us the better as our hopefuls managed just one good round between them. At least we can be certain all of our fancies will play the full four round this week as the International Federation of PGA Tours (basically a conglomerate of all major pro Tours) hosts the no-cut World Golf Championship event in Mexico.

The event sees the top 50 ranked players on the official rankings join the top ranked players from the Fedex Cup, European Tour and sprinkling of the top names from the lesser Tours to form a 70-man field. Club de Golf Chapultepec hosts the event for the third year. The high altitude course plays much shorter than its listed 7,345 yards and removes length from the equation almost entirely.

While the altitude will help the shorter hitters keep up, it does introduce an element of guesswork on approach as balls will fly much further than golfers are used to – this makes scrambling a key metric to focus on this week, as balls will likely be flying all around the greens. The kikuyu grass from last week’s event returns so we might be chasing the South Africans again.

The weather should not be a factor at all with conditions looking perfect throughout the week. The market is all over JT after his runner up last week and strong performances at the course and DJ’s course history has him too short as well. This should open up some strong values plays further down the board.

Over the Odds

Gary Woodland

We’ll start by pointing out Woodland’s scrambling game isn’t what we were after, but the man is currently in an incredible vein of form that has seen him finish top ten in 6 of his last 8 events, including two runner-ups. The fact that out model takes a while to catch up to recent form but still rates him ahead of the market is very encouraging.

 BACK – Gary for 0.75 units at $50 or better.

Webb Simpson

A much closer profile to what we were after, Simpson is an elite around the green player and another bloke in the best form of his career. He loses strokes off the tee, which is the only weak point in his otherwise stellar all round game – that should not hold him back this week. Not the biggest overlay but we are loving the course fit.

 BACK – Webb for 0.75 units at $55+

Louis Oosthuizen

He let us down last week with a very poor showing on his way to a missed cut, but we’re sticking with him this week (memories of backing Rickie a week before his victory are still fresh). The high altitude and kikuyu should remind him of home and his around the green game is strong.

 BACK – Oost for 0.25 units at $110+

Glover gave it a good shake for us last week, sticking with the leaders until fading in the last round and a half or so. He traded much lower than his $230 price we tipped him so hopefully some followers hedged out for a nice profit.

The Tour returns to a single course format this week, with a regulation size field tackling the Riviera Country Club course. The field is of extremely high quality with Bryson returning from his adventures in the deserts and is joined by a couple more of Europe’s finest.

The setup at RCC has remained largely unchanged since first hosting the event in 1926 and while not super long on paper, there are six very long par 4s and two par 5s that stretch over 580 yards. It’s no wonder DJ has been put up as favourite this week – you’ll need length to succeed here.

There’s a high chance of much needed rain for the LA area, which may limit the advantage of the bigger hitters if it stops the fairways carrying.

Not much value about this week, with the big names either fairly or underpriced.

Over the Odds

Louis Oosthuizen

Quite ironic that we usually favour the PGA players when they play Euro events and yet this week we like a couple of Euros playing Stateside. The Oost has been in ripping form lately with four top 10s in his last 5 starts and he should feel right at home on the Kikuyu grass which is common in his native South Africa.

 BACK – The Oost to win for 0.5 units at $60 or better.

Tyrrell Hatton

The Englishman gets some serious distance off the tee, despite his diminutive proportions and has improved his driving distance pretty much every year on Tour. Comes into this off a week’s rest and in arguably the best form of his career.

 BACK – Hatton for 0.5 units at $100 or better

Luke List

More of a course fit play, although helped by the hefty overlay, List hasn’t exactly been lighting it up lately. But he’s shown that when he gets the big stick humming nicely he can keep up with the big names.

 BACK – List for 0.25 units at $180 or better.

We’re running up against the deadline this week so only have to time for a quick brag about last week: go DJ (we were a week early on Rickie unfortunately), and a quick note on the courses this week: they’re short.

With that out of the way, on to the tips.

Over the Odds

Tony Finau

We’re sticking with the big unit, despite his struggles last week. While this course is short, DJ’s past successes here demonstrate the big hitters aren’t at a disadvantage. The market continues to under-rate him based on his so-so early season form.

 BACK – Big Tony for 1 unit at $26+.

Lucas Glover

Comes into this tournament in ripping form, with the flat stick the only hole in his game at the moment. Given the hugely variable nature of putting form, we’re happy to back him and hope for a big positive variance on the greens to complement his tee-to-green form, which proves much reliable future predictor.

 BACK – Glover for 0.25 units at $230+.

We got our season going last week as our man Bryson taught the Euros a golf lesson as he cruised to victory in Dubai. It’s not easy backing for the win only so it’s nice to put one on the board early. The result did mask a very poor week with our PGA picks so we’ll be putting in extra hours this week for our three picks.

The PGA leaves California this week and heads to Arizona for the greatest show on grass. Crowds are unusually raucous at the event as it usually coincides with the Super Bowl weekend, as is the case this week. The notorious par-3 16th is enclosed by a 20,000 seat grandstand, often populated with Arizona State University students cheering on their man Phil Mickelson. The Arizona State alumnus must like the attention as he has won here three times.

The course plays as a par-71, with a length of 7,100 yards. Off the tee play is the key stat here, although not necessarily just raw distance. With the crowds on the back 9 particularly intense, we’ll be focussing on proven performers who should be able to handle the increased pressure of louder than average golf fans riding their every shot.

The morning/afternoon waves can exhibit dramatic distances as the early morning dew dries out and the ball bounces much further in the afternoon.

With all this in mind, we’ll be chasing big overlays on blokes with great off the tee play and a strong record in big tournaments.

Over the Odds

Tony Finau

Big Tony fits our target perfectly this week and quite frankly, given the overlay on offer we would’ve picked him regardless. He’s arguably the most underrated player on Tour and our model has him neck and neck with the much more fancied Jon Rahm.

He goes big off the tee, has performed well in Majors and we think he has the type of personality that will suit the boisterous gallery.

 BACK – Big Tony for 1 unit @ $24+.

Alex Noren

The Swede doesn’t quite have the big stick chops we were seeking but he should’ve knocked the rust off last week after backing up a poor first round with an excellent second round to just miss the cut. We liked what we were seeing at the tail end of 2018 and think the strong form will continue.

 BACK – Noren for 0.5 units @ $85 or better

Steve Stricker

OK, we’ve gradually strayed from our target here as the Strick isn’t’ exactly an off the tee specialist. We do think his experience will help him navigate the loud back nine and the overlay is just ridiculous.

 BACK – Stricker for 0.25 units @ $450+.

Another week on the Euro, another sandy Emirate playing host. This week sees the King Abdullah Economic City host Saudi Arabia’s first Euro event as golf continues to expand along the Arabian Peninsula.

Without seeing much of the course we won’t spend long on speculative analysis but we can say this isn’t really one for the bombers, with a length of only 6,900 yards and only two par-5s.

Wind certainly looks like it will be in play so we’ll go out a limb and say shorter hitting links-loving players should be the ones to watch this week.

Over the Odds

Justin Rose

Fresh off trouncing a strong PGA field last week, Rose solidified his number 1 ranking on our model. Against the lesser lights of Europe we like him, even at the short odds on offer this week.

 BACK – JR for 0.5 unit at $8+.

Dustin Johnson

Should be better for the hit out last week and has hopefully acclimatised to the desert conditions. The short course cancels out his biggest strength somewhat, we feel DJ is a good enough player to succeed even without leaning on the boom stick.

 BACK – DJ for 0.5 units at $10+.

Henrik Stenson

Hasn’t been in the best of the form, but the short track should suit his accurate driving. Pretty great overlay available so we’ll round out our tips with a throwback to a couple of weeks ago!

 BACK – Stenson for 0.5 units @ $36+.

The Tour remains in California this week as a very strong field tackles another multi-course format at the Torrey Pines Club in La Jolla, which has hosted the tournament since 1968.

Players split their time between the North and South course pre-cut before playing the final two rounds on the South Course, which hosted the US Open in 2008.

The North course is the easier of the two, however recent renovations have closed the gap somewhat, however it still rates about 2 strokes easier. It plays a shortish 7,250 yards and features one of the highest eagle rates on Tour.

We’ll focus our analysis on the South course as the winner will have played three rounds on it. It plays a very long 7,698 yards with six lengthy par 4s. We’ll certainly be focussing on off the tee performance! Scrambling can also be of assistance if fairways are missed as greens usually have an entry point available.

Over the Odds

Rickie Fowler

Fowler finished off last year strongly, however did go the year without posting a victory. He hasn’t played since December which is probably a factor in the large overlay. We still like him this week but will go a half unit due to the rust factor.

 BACK – Rickie to win for 0.5 units at $30+

Patrick Cantlay

Has the big stick game to give this course a good shake and comes in on the back of excellent form – he was right in contention last week before fading somewhat near the end.

 BACK – Cantlay to win for 0.5 units at $28+

Harold Varner

Varner posted four solid, if unspectacular rounds last week to continue his fine form. We’d like a top 20 bet but the odds aren’t quite there so we’ll settle for a win bet with an eye on laying off during the week.

 BACK – Varner to win for 0.25 units at $260+

The Euro moves to another desert Emirate this week with Dubai hosting the second of the desert swing events. A strong field tackles the Majlis Course this week with seven previous major winners lacing up the cleats.

The fairways are tighter than the usual relaxed desert setups and thick rough makes hitting them crucial. Water is a factor on 10 holes however wind often proves the course’s primary defence. The wind is often a bigger factor for the afternoon wave so keep that in mind if trading in-play – it can make up to a 4 stroke difference in scoring.

With wind such a strong factor we’ll be looking for players with a strong links-style history.

Over the Odds

Bryson DeChambeau

The model rates PGA players consistently higher than their Euro counterparts so it’s no surprise it likes Bryson this week. We haven’t been having much luck backing the favourites but he deservingly heads up the board this week.

 BACK – Bryson to win for 1 unit at $10.50+

Tyrrell Hatton

It’s rare that we find an overlay on a player with a strong course history but that’s the case with Hatton this week who has posted top 10 finishes in his last three starts here including two podiums. Two of his three Euro victories have come on links courses so he has the pedigree to succeed here.

 BACK – Tyrrell to win for 0.5 units at $27+

Victor Dubuisson

We’re going to keep having an interest in this comeback story as the Euro’s forgotten man returns from a long layoff due to injury.

 BACK – Victor to win for 0.25 units at $530+

The putter was ice cold for our man DeChambeau last week but his core stats were very positive. Our analysis has shown that putting performance is the most variable and difficult to predict part of a stick man’s game, so we’re not too worried by this.

On to this week, the Tour heads to the desert of Southern California as the amateurs join the pros to tackle the first of three multi-course setups in coming weeks. With a large field, rounds will be will spread throughout the day, which gives changing course conditions more time to play out.

Surprisingly, there is rain forecast on Thursday and a decent breeze over the opening three rounds. History, albeit brief, says the Nicklaus Tourney course is the toughest to play in windy conditions so keep that in mind if looking at any potential trades.

The Stadium course plays a stroke harder than the two easier resort style courses, with greens well-protected by bunkers. A look back through past winners doesn’t highlight any particular skills required so we’ll stick with straight up overlay-driven plays this week.

Over the Odds

Justin Rose

We had to double check our numbers on this one, but against an incredibly weak field by PGA standards, Rose has popped up as pretty much the best play we’ve seen since this column started.

 BACK – Rose to win for 1 unit at $12+

Patrick Cantlay

It’s pretty rare to have such big overlays on two of the top three but the market seems to have gone a little silly this week and there is big value in the Californian.

 BACK – Cantlay to win for 0.5 units at $20+

CT Pan

Posted a hugely improved 2018, which saw him finish 62nd in total strokes gained over the season. We’re backing the young bloke to continue this improvement and make his first cut at this event.

 BACK – Pan to win for 0.25 units at $120+

After a brief hiatus the Euro is back and is also headed to the desert for the first event of the Rolex Series in Abu Dhabi. DJ and Koepka join the best of Europe as part of a particularly strong field, no doubt helped by generous fees paid to attract the big names.

The course is your quintessential desert track, playing long and flat with challenge being thrown up from the 90 bunkers littering the course. A look back through past high finishers shows a lean towards driving distance, not surprising given the length, although Kaymer’s strong performances show ball striking can atone for a lack of distance.

With that in mind, we’ll be leaning towards the bombers but won’t write off big overlays on a shorter hitter.

Over the Odds

DJ, Brooks and Stenson

Things are getting weird this week, with five of the top six names on the board across both Tours coming up as strong model plays. As much as we dislike backing big names on a Tour as random as the Euro, it’s hard to argue with the value this week.

 BACK – DJ to win for 0.5 units at $7+.

 BACK – Brooks to win for 0.5 units at $14+.

 BACK – Stenson to win for 0.5 units at $19+

We’re back for 2019 as the Tour heads to Hawaii for the Sony Open. One of the longer running tournaments on Tour, the event has been played at the Waialae Country Club since its inception in 1965.

A short and claustrophobic course awaits the 144-man field, limiting the advantage of the big hitters. Approach and around the green play is favoured over driver and flat stick work. With a lot of the field coming off long layoffs, we’ll focus on an interesting stat dug up by Josh Culp – over three quarters of top three finishers in the last 5 years played an event in December or later.

Weather won’t be an issue with sunny skies and light winds providing excellent scoring conditions. If this forecast changes keep an eye on the AM/PM split as wind can have a huge influence on scoring on this course.

Over the Odds

Bryson Dechambeau

The model has finally caught up with Bryson’s incredible 2018, which saw him in contention almost every time he picked up the sticks. He’s played plenty of events in the last two months so shouldn’t be suffering from any rust-related issues.

 BACK – Bryson to win for 1 unit at $14+

Paul Casey

The Brit had an underappreciated 2018, with a victory over a strong field Valspar and two reasonable showings at Majors. With putting and tee shots the weak point of his game the course should suit well.

He went around last week at the Tournament of Champions and the market seems to be reading a bit much into his poor showing as there is a massive overlay on him this week.

 BACK – Paul to win for 0.5 units at $45+

Keegan Bradley

Had a shocker last week which saw his 2019 stats take an absolute beating, however it does give him a pass on our rust test. The model thankfully has a longer memory and we’re going to focus more on his second best on Tour approach game from the 2018 season and excellent driving accuracy.

He’s had a frankly awful record at the course but we’re willing to overlook that given the juicy overlay.

 BACK – Bradley to win for 0.25 units at $75+


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